Elementary Physical Education: Cost is Personal and Social
Although expectancy-value models of motivation have been applied to understanding children’s physical activity in a variety of contexts, the construct of cost has received relatively less attention. In the present study, perceived cost for engaging in mandatory physical education (P.E.) classes is explored. In particular, we examine different dimensions to cost as well as how cost may be related to children’s competence beliefs and values, perceived autonomy-support, and P.E. engagement.
Two hundred fifty-eight fifth-graders were surveyed in their P.E. classes. Children responded to items assessing cost, competence beliefs, intrinsic value, and attainment value for P.E., as well as perceived autonomy-support of the P.E. teacher.
Two distinct types of cost were identified through factor analysis: personal discomfort cost and social cost. Personal discomfort cost was negatively related to competence beliefs and values, engagement in P.E., and perceived autonomy-support.
Perceived cost appears to be a useful way to understand why some children may be less engaged in P.E. classes. P.E. teachers may be able to mitigate cost by engaging in tactics that are autonomy-supportive in nature, such as providing children with choices and rationales for activities.